The Charlotte 49ers (3-3) walked off against Gardner-Webb (2-7) in the first game of the double header on Wednesday at the D.L. Phillips Softball Complex, 2-1, using a 14-strikeout performance from Haley Wiseman and a shot to deep left field from Grace Beatty to take the first game. Following the win, the 49ers capped off their home-opener with an 8-3 victory with freshman pitchers Alison Green and Lauren Riley locking down the circle, while Emma Ocker, Grace Beatty and Becca Shipper had solid nights at the plate.
Wiseman (2-2) got on a role early for Charlotte and did not show any signs of slowing down in the circle, striking out seven straight batters to take the 49ers into the fourth inning, still scoreless. The 49ers got runners in scoring position in the first and second innings, behind a triple from Becca Shipper and a double from Grace Beatty in the second, but were unable to move them any closer to score the first run of the ball game.
In the fourth, shortstop Haley Pace reached on a walk and quickly stole second with Beatty at the plate, who reached on an error to third to put runners on first and second base with just one out. Right fielder Erin Powers then reached on a fielders choice, moving the two runners up 60 feet closer to scoring. Meredith Harris stepped up to the plate next for the 49ers, roping a ball to the second baseman, who dove and caught right before the outfield grass to end the Charlotte threat.
As Wiseman dealt in the circle, striking out almost two girls per inning, Mackenzie Thompson kept Charlotte off the scoreboard through seven innings, sending the game into extra innings. With the international rule taking place this season, both teams were able to place a runner at second base to start off the inning, in an attempt to make the game faster.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs scored first in the top of the eighth, as Gardner-Webb used a sacrifice bunt and then a single from Kaylee Wacaster to left field to score Megan Champion from third to put up the first run of the game. Wiseman kept Gardner-Webb from scoring another run, giving the 49ers a chance to tie or win the game in the bottom of the eighth.
Lizzy Birch was placed at second base to start the bottom half of the inning, as Kiersten Berrier laid down a well-placed sacrifice bunt down the first baseline to put Birch on the third. Freshman Spencer Gray then singled to left field, scoring Birch from third base, tying the game in extras, 1-1.
After a steal from Gray, putting her in scoring position, Shipper moved the freshman 60 feet closer with a single down the left field line, bringing up Beatty.
The junior from nearby Olympic High School hit a shot to left field, over the left fielders head, scoring Gray to give Charlotte their first home-win of the season, 2-1.
The 49ers and head coach Aimee DeVos went with freshman Green to start the game in the circle, throwing four complete innings, surrendering three runs on four hits against the Runnin’ Bulldogs. But the big story of the night came at the plate for the 49ers, scoring eight runs on nine hits.
The Niners jumped on Gardner-Webb early as Ocker reached on a four-pitch walk, with Shipper following the walk with an infield single to the shortstop. Pace flied out to center field, deep enough to allow Ocker to tag from second and head to third, putting runners at the corners for Beatty. After a steal from Shipper to put two runners in scoring position, Ocker crossed home plate after a wild pitch from Oliva Henson, allowing Shipper to head to third.
Beatty continued her great day at the plate, grounding out to third base, allowing Shipper to come in to score the second run of the game for the 49ers, helping take pressure off of Green in the circle.
After a 1-2-3 inning for Green in the second, Charlotte helped get the freshman even more run support in the bottom half of the inning. Gray and Berrier both reached on four-pitch walks to lead things off, as Taylor Byrne laid down a sacrifice bunt, moving both runners into scoring position.
After a pop-out to the shortstop from Alex Paulson, Ocker continued her hot day at the plate, singling to the outfield and scoring Gray and Berrier to give Charlotte a 4-0 lead. Shipper followed Ocher’s single with a single to left field, scoring Ocker and giving Charlotte a five-run advantage, leading to a Gardner-Webb pitching change.
Gardner-Webb used a double and a sacrifice fly to score three runs in the top of the fourth inning off of the freshman Green, but Charlotte responded with runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning. After Shipper and Pace reached base, Harris executed a safety squeeze to allow Shipper to slide in safe at home, giving Charlotte a 6-3 lead. With Pace now on third, Gray grounded out to first to score the shortstop, followed by a single to third from Berrier, scoring Harris for the last run of the game for either team.
Riley came in for relief for Green in the circle, throwing three innings of one-hit ball, including four strikeouts.
The 49ers will stay at home this weekend as they host the First Pitch Classic, welcoming Bowling Green at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, St. Bonaventure at 4:45 p.m. on Friday and Canisus at 12:15 p.m. on Saturday. Depending on the outcome of each game, the 49ers will either play at 2:30 p.m. or 4:45 p.m. Saturday evening with the chance to play for the championship game Sunday at 10 a.m. or 12:15 p.m.